While I was out playing hooky this weekend, I happened to catch this little guy taking a refreshing dip in the fountain in front of Frisco City Hall.
I have spring fever. It’s closing in on the end of another semester, the weather is beautiful, and I have a swanky new camera that calls to me. Sure, I know that I should use what little free time I can eke out here and there to write my bestselling novel, but right now I can’t concentrate. Instead of fighting a losing battle, I gave in. My camera and I had a busy weekend. Here are some of the fruits of our labors:
Every spring for the last six years, a single lily in my back garden pushes up through the warming ground, reaching skyward toward the sun.
Every year it tries to grow tall; every year it fails. I don’t know why, and perhaps I should have put the poor thing out of its misery years ago.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t bring myself to pull him up.
This year was no different. A month or so ago I began to see the first signs that my little lily was going to give it a go again this year. I gave it props for its persistence, but I knew how this story would end – without anything to show for its trouble. I thought about pulling it up.
Last week I went out into the backyard and discovered a big fat bulging bud on the end of a ridiculously thin stalk. It wobbled around in the wind like a bobble-head. Again, I gave the little thing props for trying, but I didn’t think it would last. How could it, it had never bloomed before.
So, imagine my surprise when I peered out into the growing light this morning and discovered this:
I’m still experimenting with this photography thing, and am still trying to learn how to manipulate the manual settings. This weekend I used one of our cats as a muse. She was not amused. I am quite certain that there is a nasty fall down the stairs in my future. But I thought I got some fairly decent shots out of the deal.
I learned this week…
…that while bears and sharks top my list of the world’s scariest creatures, Cheer Moms run a close second. My daughter’s gym has been inundated with them the last couple of weeks. They are like nothing I’ve ever seen, and as I watch them from the safety of my hidden corner, I can hear the voice of Marlin Perkins echoing in my ear:
Today on Wild Kingdom we travel into the barbarous depths of the neighborhood gymnasium in search of the mysterious and elusive creature called the Cheer Mom. They are a capricious lot, social in nature, tending to move in tightly knit packs of a dozen or more. We are in luck today, a group seems to be congregating at one end of the tumble track. As with all of these factions, there is an alpha female among their ranks. See how her domination of the other members is easily discernible by her superior vocalization, aggressive fist pumping, and springy ponytail. Note the catty banter. We believe this behavior to be both a defensive and offensive tactic used by the beta members as they jockey for the coveted top spot. Collectively, they are fearsome. Today they appear on edge, dissatisfied by something they see just beyond the balance beams. An underachieving offspring? A rogue coach? It is unclear…
They appear to be organizing for something.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say they are preparing for an attack.
Yes, they are on the move.
The rogue coach seems to be the intended victim.
Yes, they have the coach in their line of sight.
He sees them. Note the terror that flashed across his face.
He tries to escape, but it’s too late, they have him surrounded.
The circle of life is complete.
…that my new neon pink tennis shoes are indeed the most hideous things I’ve ever put on my feet. I know this because the young hip girl who sits in front of me in Sociology thinks they are “beast.”
…that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are finally going to tie the knot after spawning (and adopting) six children. I am so relieved. For a while there, I feared for the survival of the human race should these two forsake the sacred vows of matrimony.
…that it’s the 100 anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and the fifteenth anniversary of the debut of the James Cameron film. In honor of this event, we have been given the gift of Titanic in 3D. You know, because 3D makes everything better. One might think that the use of 3D technology could somehow allow the captain to better ascertain the enormity of his impeding doom. Guess not.
…that Florence + the Machine’s new MTV Unplugged album moves me on a level that I can only describe as transcendental.
…that there are only 3 weeks left until the end of the semester. That means the chapter of my life known as Yoga for a Grade must come to a close. I find myself oddly saddened by this prospect. I’d like to believe that this is because I’ve come to understand the spiritual melding of the mind and body through meditation, physical strength, and rhythmic breath. Unfortunately, I think my melancholy has more to do with the knowledge that I will soon lose a wondrous well of writing gold.
…that last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by Herman the Rabbit who haunts my backyard. And, yes, I’m pretty sure that Herman is a she, but who am I to argue with my daughter over gender based names.
All through middle school, I lived in a small rural village in Western Germany called Börsborn. It was an idyllic place that shaped my early adolescence and gave me a lifetime of memories to cherish.
One of my favorite memories: romping through fields of poppies in late spring.
Here in urban Texas, we have fields of Texas Bluebonnets strategically located and solely designated for our viewing pleasure. Unlike the wilds of the German countryside, it’s all very structured and contrived. It is beautiful, nonetheless, and the fields are the perfect place to practice my new hobby – photography. During my latest photo-taking expedition, I made an unexpected and thrilling discovery.
When the Bluebonnets begin to fade, poppies rise up, stand tall, and shine.
For an hour or two, I felt twelve again…well, minus the frizz ball hair and unibrow…and itched to throw off my shoes and frolic.
“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” – C.S. Lewis
Progress is a relative term, subjective, and in the eye of the beholder. If you take a quick peek at my notebook, it will tell you that I have worked diligently this week in an effort to nail down a set up for my work in progress. However, if you delve a little deeper, you will see that I’m floating untethered in a turbulent sea of uncertainty.
I’m sure this is a normal phenomenon in story planning, and I have no doubt that it’s the natural order of things. It’s a learning process, after all. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling frustrated. It’s a dizzying thing to take two steps back for every step forward.
On Friday, I was convinced that I had come up with the perfect midpoint plot twist that would turn the entire story on its ear. It was fabulous. The greatest idea I’ve ever had. I was blinded by my own brilliance.
One step forward.
Today, I hate it.
So, I changed it.
Now the midpoint doesn’t jive with the set up.
Two steps back.
Okay. Enough with the whining. Let’s get down to it, shall we? How did I stack up this week?
Last weeks goal: Finish up character profile for Ivan and continue working on setup outline.
Goal = met – I guess. I did finish up my character profile, though I think with the new midpoint, I will need to make him less douche-baggy.
Next week’s goal: Figure out this midpoint thing and get it to jive with the set up.
Did I make progress this week?
Yes, I believe I did.
(Cue the obligatory golf claps now)
I learned this week…
…that my daughter is turning into a girl. I know this may sound strange, but if you knew her, you would know exactly what I mean. She is the epitome of tomboy. So much so, that I often forget that she is indeed a girl. It’s not a bad thing. She is who she is, and we love her unconditionally. It’s just that sometimes we catch a glimpse of her elusive femininity, and it leaves us speechless. This week we were treated to a full moon. My daughter loves the moon and in an effort to get a better look at it, she dragged her telescope out into the backyard. She invited a couple of her friends to join her. One of them was the boy she likes. When she had confirmation that he would be stopping by, she barreled into the house and up the stairs announcing as she went that she only had a few minutes to change her clothes and brush her hair. Exactly one minute later, she reappeared with her hair freshly coiffed, wearing a brand new pair of shorts, and her low top Converse sneakers – her idea of dressy. As she disappeared out the backdoor, I was left feeling a little shell-shocked. I don’t think I’m ready for what lurks right around the corner.
…that it seems I will never learn that studying just before bed will lead to strangely disjointed dreams that seem to mock my efforts. I diligently studied for two tests, back to back, and was rewarded with a night filled with images of Stalin chopping off Trotsky’s head as Darwin preached of natural selection and social stratification with a finch perched upon his shoulder. Otto von Bismarck stood atop a trench and expertly choreographed the slaughter at Verdun while Milgram and Durkheim argued the importance of imperialism as an innate function of society as a whole. This dream was almost as strange as the one I had about Jen Garner and the lady in the orange overcoat. Almost.
…that sitting poolside for three hours on a warm spring day will yield three things: convincing conflict between Anna and her father, a crudely drawn map of cities Anna will have to visit during her crusade for vengeance, and sunburned knees.
…that some people have something to say about everything, even if they don’t really have anything to say at all. This annoying habit will provoke me to say something that might be construed as snarky or spiteful. I’m not proud of myself, but sometimes sarcasm is the only viable alternative to homicide.
…that the misuse of quotation marks is on the rise in social media. I’m confused by this epidemic and wonder what makes this particular outlet so susceptible to ignorance.
…that last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this cute little bunny. I can’t help but wonder what he’s up to. Is he bashful? Did someone say something funny? Oh…I know…he’s allergic to Easter eggs. Somebody get this bunny a tissue.
It’s spring time in Texas. That means fields and fields of glorious Texas Bluebonnets. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been out to take photos in my favorite field. Flipping through the fruits of my labor, I discovered a recurring theme.
Lots and lots of bees.
Who knew I liked bees some much?
A writer writes.
That manta has been drilled into my head since the moment I decided to embrace my desire to put pen to page. There is a societal expectation that if you have the audacity to call yourself a writer, you must produce proof of such a claim. I’ve always taken this to heart.
I think, therefore I am. – Rene Descartes
I write, therefore I am a writer.
It’s a mindset that is very hard for me to reconcile at the moment. If you read my posts, you will remember that at the beginning of the year I made the decision to shelve my work in progress. Recently, I’ve felt the magnetic pull of characters that will not be ignored. In an effort to stave off the voices, and because I believe in the essence of this story, I decided to begin again.
Back to the drawing board.
To start over.
As new ideas begin to take root, grow, and blossom, I am overwhelmed with the desire to write. Witty dialogue mingles with vibrant action in scenes that swirl around my brain, begging for an outlet. It is the order of things. In the past, I’ve been very much a fly by the seat of your pants writer. As the voices grew louder, the scenes more vivid, the siren’s call of the keyboard more desperate, I inevitably gave into the temptation to write, mindless of the consequences.
Herein lies the reason my first stab at Retribution went down in glorious, Technicolor flames. I gave into the voices and lost sight of the big picture. I planned poorly – or rather – I didn’t plan at all.
This time it will be different. It must be. I took an oath to myself that I would resist the itch to write until I had a thorough, well-planned outline. It was a promise that fell freely from my lips. It sounded so easy, such an attainable goal.
I was wrong, as I am so often lately. It is very hard to resist the itch to write, especially when you have set such boundaries. It is as if my rebellious self is testing the limits of my resolve by spitting in the eye of my iron will.
But, my iron will is a determined beast. Resist I will.
For now, anyway.
This week it’s all about the map.
My first attempt to write Anna’s story of retribution was a dismal failure. I allowed myself to get caught up in the complexity of individual scenes and forgot a vital rule in novel-writing: Every character action/reaction must benefit the progression of the story as a whole. As a result, I lost sight of my final destination. To rectify this problem, I’ve gone where I’ve never gone before.
To the fiery depths of Hell.
Well, not really. Just into the depths of the dreaded outline.
I’ve been working on a vague sketch of Retribution using my favorite prompt game, “What if.” This week the story is beginning to take form. Through this process, it has become obvious that this will be a very different tale from the one I initially envisioned. But it has to be, right? Of course, it does. The last one was complete shit.
So what’s the nitty-gritty on the my weekly progress?
I have a good overview of Retribution down on paper. Of course, there are a few gaps, a few unconnected dots, but I think they will work themselves out during the hardcore outlining phase. Which is where I find myself now – the hardcore outline. Up first, the set up. I’m pleased with the sequence of events in this phase. However, there is one hiccup. Anna’s father. In my last attempt, he was dead. His in-depth characterization was largely inconsequential. He had a peripheral presence that did not require any real exploration. In this version, I have brought him back from the dead – at least for the interim – and his real-time relationship with his daughter is an essential element in the progression of Anna’s story and her quest for revenge. Therefore, he must be fully examined and profiled.
This week’s goal = finish a solid first draft of the setup outline.
Goal = Sort of met, but need to find out what makes Anna’s father tick before I can really set this outline portion in stone.
Next week’s goal = Finish up character profile for Ivan and continue working on setup outline.
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